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Wakeboard Tournaments

By Lori Wolak


I recently attended my first wakeboarding tournament. Things have never been the same for us. I approached the tournament organizer to find out more about the event. The organizer, Scott Dickens (pictured left), who owns the Glass & Powder Boardshops in Richmond, VA, was more than accommodating. In fact, he allowed me to ride in the towboat for the last few hours of the competition in order to take pictures. Contestants came to Lake Anna, VA from five states to enter the event. It was awesome! Here is what I found out about how the tournaments are run.


The Divisions

The competition is divided into five divisions for different levels of skill. The first group is the Groms, which is the 14 and under age group. This age group gives kids who are learning the sport a place to show their skills, and get a feel for what it is like to participate in a judged competition.


The second group is the Ladies division. The Ladies can be any age to compete. An eight-year-old came in second in the Ladies division at the tournament I attended. The next division is called Amateur, and is for those who can jump wakes and turn the board in the air or on the water, but are not yet doing tricks involving upside-down aerial acrobatics.


The first group which does flips in the air is called the Inverted division. In competition the Inverted division is limited to a maximum of three aerial flips during their run, and a maximum of two falls. In the Outlaw division there are no restrictions on how many flips or tricks a competitor can perform. The Inverted and Outlaw competitors are typically sponsored by a business, which pays for their equipment and expenses to compete.


Competitors register to compete before the tournament starts. Each fills out a registration sheet that lets them specify the speed at which they wish to be pulled, the length of towrope they prefer, and the direction the boat should turn (clockwise or counter-clockwise) at the ends of the course. All of these factors are important because it affects how the boarder approaches and crosses the wake to perform their tricks.


The towboat pulls each competitor through the course along a prescribed path, which includes a “double-up” at each end. Double-up is the term used to describe the boat crossing its own wake at about a 90 degree angle. This creates a very turbulent wake that helps the wakeboarders get a lot of “air”, enabling the high flips and jumps. A second boat picks up fallen riders, while the towboat returns to shore to pick up the next rider.


One or more judges riding on the towboat work up scores for each rider. Scoring is based on the number and difficulty of the tricks performed, and how well the trick was performed as well as style. Style points can be added for anything that adds a bit of panache to the trick, such as spraying nearby boats or having the board touch down on a buoy while in the air.


Want to Participate?

If you weren’t interested in wakeboarding before you went to a tournament, you will be afterwards. So find out when and where the nearest one will be held and go! Then you’ll want to get started in the hottest water sport going.


I highly recommend taking lessons if you can prior to buying a board. Also, trying a board before you buy it is a good idea. You can get a general idea of the type and size of board to buy for your size and expertise level with the wizard on the WakeWorld site at You can also get a good overview of the tricks you will need to prepare to perform if you want to try to compete in a tournament at The Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert level tricks are described with the number of points each will earn if performed well.


Once you get used to the toe-side and heel-side terminology, it all starts making some sense, and you can start trying new tricks. Be sure to practice behind different boats, as the wakes can vary quite a bit between different types.



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